Actor, Co-Founder and CEO of charity Living, Mental Health educator, Motivational Speaker.
As opening speaker at Luminosity Youth Summit 2017, how will you pump up the crowd and get them inspired?
I’m going to get them inspired by creating real conversations around the mantra of the entire conference, “Courage”: taking risks and going on scary ideas, but also movement; movement is a big part of it. Motion creates emotion; if I can pump up the crowd and inspire them, and then go the next step and motivate them, I think it’s going to be a successful day for all.
Why are you passionate about engaging and motivating youth?
When I was young, I never really had access to speakers, nor information in areas that I speak about in my life. I think these areas are extremely important, not only for mental health and wellbeing space – I guess it’s more so around change and around emotional intelligence. I think it’s more important than IQ these days; if you have a little bit of emotional intelligence and you can relate to people and you’ve got compassion, it goes a long way in building really good relationships and being a true leader in your own right.
What does the theme “Courage, Collaborate, Create” mean to you?
To me, everything I do in my life is not all about that one person can be a great achiever. It’s about working together and collaborating collectively as a team or a network. To collaborate, I feel, is in one of the most important things.
Without courage, people won’t take risks, get outside their comfort zone and give things a go … This is really important, because you can have great ideas and really good people around you; you could be an awesome visionary, but if you’re not willing to take the risk, take the plunge and trial something, or have the potential of being vulnerable and opening yourself up to failure, I think it’s going to be hard for you to ever step out of that comfort zone. Having that courage and willingness to step outside that box; it shows a lot about someone.
What do you hope young people will take away from your Luminosity appearance?
From experience with speaking, I want people to go away and own their true values and their true inner self, not worry about what other people think, and not worry about failure or what may or may not happen. I think if someone has a really good idea or they’re very passionate about something, look at the passion as a driving motivator. Don’t always look at the monetary or the materialistic things that could potentially come with making decisions in our lives, because if you’re good at something and you’re passionate about something, if you follow your heart, take a risk; all that other stuff comes with it anyway.
Who have been some of your role models or people you have looked up to in life?
I’m just an everyday person. I’m in the same boat, same level as everyone else. I look up to everyone; I learn something new every day from a normal person walking down the street, from a conversation with someone. I don’t know everything – far from it; I don’t think anyone knows everything.
As far as role models and inspiration goes, I did a talking session last night to a small community in Dubbo, and speaking to families that have lost their loved ones in recent months, they were inspiring me. That helps me deal with some of my problems I deal with on a daily basis.
I look up to everyone, and I think that’s the beauty of my outlook; I don’t have one figure, a mentor or a role model I find better than others. I keep an open mind; and I think if you don’t have an open mind, things are going to be challenging.
Having been a competitor on the hit TV show Survivor, what are some of the lessons you took from that experience?
A lot of time to myself in my own mind. You spend a lot of time in your own head and thinking about what’s important and what isn’t important. The biggest things I got out of Survivor are gratitude, appreciation and resilience; it’s not something you can teach.
I felt like I was in a very vulnerable situation – I’d never camped, I’d never been sleeping outdoors like I did on that show, and to do it with a bunch of random people I’d never met – it was hard. I was very appreciative of not having phones, and not having access to accommodation. People live that life 24/7; I at least chose to live in that situation, yet I was fortunate enough to come back to my life.
What are some things you wish you knew when you were younger that you know now?
For me, I would have given myself the permission to not succeed. I placed a lot of pressure on myself, and a lot of the time it was to make sure other people were happy and to impress other people. Really, you have to live your own life; everyone is on a different journey. I was always worried about what people may think and why I was doing this or that; that stuff is very irrelevant in this day and age. At the end of the day, you’re on your own, really.
Failure and setbacks, things that get in the way, obstacles in life are always inevitable; they’ll always happen, and trying to think about things or worry about things that are outside your control can cause so much unnecessary wasted time and wasted anxiety, and you can become extremely ineffective and unproductive.
You just have to roll with the punches, give things the best you can and be positive. I wish I lived in the moment a little bit more; the school years were some of the best years of my life. Everyone tries to have the perfect plan: “I’m going to do my HSC, I’m going to graduate and I’m going to have my gap year” or, “I’m going to go straight to uni; I wanna be a doctor… “
Something will pop up, and a lot of times we get let down, we get disappointed, because we think there’s already this perfect plan that’s in place. But, if you can be flexible in your life and adapt to different things, you can become more resilient and better at taking on life’s challenges.